How “Indie” Authors Can Promote Their Books Without Spending Much

One of the greatest challenges for “indie” authors during the post-writing stage of their books is how to reach their target audience. Most independent writers are also the publisher of their works, whether these are e-Books or physical books. Certainly, these authors and self-publishers are looking for cost-effective ways to market their publication.

Here are at least five (5) ways to market and promote your book without having to spend much:

Dedicated websites – find sites that devote themselves to promoting authors and their publication. As an Indie author, you get to benefit the most from these sites. Find a site that will do the following on your behalf:

– stimulate interest and curiosity of readers to get to know you and your stuff better, such as with their daily feature that highlight your work and your biography;
– publish relevant information about you including your website and social networking sites where your target audience can connect with you;
– give away freebies to readers such as free Kindle and Nook downloads;
– enable you to benefit from both free and paid promotion.

Membership to book forums – you will find several book forums on the web where members and participants talk about authors and their works. Most book lovers browse these forums for interesting finds. Sign-up with these forums. Some of these are the following: Kindle Boards, Nook Boards, Amazon Discussion Boards, Mobile Read, and Library Thing.

Blog world – network with book bloggers and benefit from their influence to encourage their readers to consider reading your book. Specifically, pay attention to bloggers who post their reviews on self-published or indie books. To find these bloggers, access their listing from online directories. You may just have to sort out which ones welcome indie authors. You may wish to check out these sites: Kindleboard listing of book reviewers, Indie reviewers list, as well as book blogs where you can find a listing of reviewers of indie and digital books.

Social media – tap the power and influence of social media to market and promote your publication. You can take advantage of the huge population of social networking sites in promoting your books. You can get long advertising mileage without having to spend as you would with conventional advertising. An example would be creating your Facebook page where you can connect with your fans. You can increase their engagement by holding contests or quizzes and giving away freebies such as free Kindle e-books or Nook e-books in return for their participation.

Search engines – if you have built your own website or blogsite, it pays to be nice to the search engines as they will bring you your natural traffic. Make your post interesting and engaging at the same time optimizing your content for the search engines. Your site should be a venue where your readers can get all relevant information they need about your publication. It is also where you can keep them hooked up to reading your books.

There you have your five (5) cost-effective ways to market and promote your publication. As long as you stay committed to your goals, and you know how to benefit from the vast resources of the internet, you can always reach your goals just like the rest of successful indie authors.

Applying Printing-Press Rules To Digital Books

The New York Public Library has 87 branches, but recently some patrons have decided to forgo all of them, and visit the stacks in their living rooms instead.

As the popularity of e-books has increased, libraries across the country have installed virtual stacks. At the New York Public Library’s website, patrons can check out audio books and e-books, temporarily downloading items directly to their computers or mobile devices, without ever stepping inside a physical library. “As our readership goes online, our materials dollars are going online,” Christopher Platt, the director of collections and circulating operations for the New York Public Library told The New York Times.(1) The American Library Association estimates that two out of every three libraries now offer e-books.

But a recent decision by HarperCollins may slow the growth of libraries’ digital collections. The publisher announced this month that it will set a lending limit for new e-books it sells to libraries. Under the new policy, after a HarperCollins e-book is checked out 26 times, it will self-destruct. The limit is intended to provide a digital equivalent of the ordinary wear and tear that, over time, causes paper books to expire.

The restriction raises interesting copyright issues. In the U.S., libraries are able to lend books as a result of what is known as the “right of first sale.” This legal principle allows the purchaser of a particular iteration of a copyrighted work to resell or lend it without permission from the copyright holder, so long as no additional copies are made. Once I have bought a copy of a book, CD or DVD, it is mine to do with as I wish.

This principle, fairly straightforward when applied to physical objects, becomes more complex for “objects” such as MP3 files or e-books that exist only as bits of digital information. In response to file-sharing sites, which attempted to apply the doctrine of first sale to digital content, copyright holders began to assert that content transmitted digitally was licensed rather than sold. Since there was never any actual sale, they claimed, the right of first sale did not apply and they could, as a result, exercise greater control over how the content was used. End User License Agreements were created, requiring customers to agree that, though they seemed to be paying money to acquire a product, they were, in fact, not buying anything. By asserting a right to limit libraries’ use of e-books, HarperCollins is essentially claiming that its e-books are, like software programs, licensed rather than sold.

The principle of “fair use” provides further information on how copyrighted works can be used. It is less directly applicable to library e-books, since it applies primarily to the replication of portions of copyrighted works rather than to the use of individual copies of whole works. But it offers some useful general guidelines for considering what constitutes copyright infringement. According to the laws on “fair use,” individuals and courts examining whether a particular use is fair or not are instructed to consider “the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.”

Publishers argue that unlimited library access to e-books would undercut their sales. If e-books are readily available to “check out” for free at any time, they worry, customers would have little reason to click “buy” rather than “borrow.” HarperCollins said in a statement about its new policy, “We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book ecosystem, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.”(2)

While the existing case law is murky, I am inclined to believe that, regardless of the possible consequences for publishers, the “right of first sale” applies.

But I doubt libraries will sue to win the point. While the “right of first sale” protects purchasers of copyrighted material, there is no “right to first sale.” If selling e-books to libraries hurts their profits, publishers are free to simply refuse to do business with libraries. In fact, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, two of the largest trade publishers in the U.S., currently do precisely that.

Just as libraries depend on publishers, publishers depend on libraries for a large portion of their sales. Sales to libraries can account for 7 to 9 percent of a publisher’s overall revenue, two major publishers told The New York Times. Like it or not, publishers and libraries are locked in a relationship of mutual interdependence.

My guess is that publishers and libraries ultimately will find a solution that both can accept. Publishers might, for example, delay release of popular new e-books to libraries, forcing those who want to read the book right away to buy it. This is not much different from the way films are released first to theaters, then for pay-tv, and finally for sale and rental on digital media. Alternatively, or additionally, publishers might charge a per-checkout premium after a certain free lending limit, rather than requiring libraries to purchase new copies once theirs “expire.” This would make it possible for libraries to keep books on their virtual shelves even when they are not sure if there will be enough future interest to justify buying a new copy.

The question of how to handle library e-books is just one of many that have resulted from the digitalization of literature. I have written previously about Macmillan’s fight with Amazon last year over e-book prices, Google’s usurpation of rights to out-of-print works and newspapers’ fights to retain control of, and profit from, the content they produce. As we move into new legal territory, the specific provisions of existing copyright laws are increasingly proving inadequate to address new issues.

But the basic principles that govern our attitudes toward intellectual property are solid. Going forward, we should not alter our principles to fit changes in technology, but should instead develop innovative ways of using technology to honor our long-standing principles. Libraries and publishers should be able to find a new way to respect the old principle that expressions of ideas, once purchased, can be sold or lent for the benefit of everyone, even when those ideas are recorded in computer code rather than on paper.


(1) The New York Times: Publisher Limits Shelf Life For Library E-Books

(2) HarperCollins: Open Letter To Librarians

How Businesses Could Benefit From Online Flipping Books

The advent of the e-book has had publishers and authors up in arms for both good and negative reasons. People can see a huge potential in what is being offered by the likes of Amazon with their Kindle and humongous choice of ebooks, Kobo with their cut price, humble e-readers and, of course, the iPad which, amongst everything else it can do, can now allow you to view epub files (Kobo, iPad) files (Kindle), if you have the right apps for the job, but others see a negative side, and a love of the tradition of reading, the smell of paper all but disappearing.

Amazon recently reported that they now sell more digital books per quarter than physical ones. Keep in mind that this is now the world’s largest distributor of books, so that’s pretty significant. Many do however argue that ereaders will be the saviour of reading as we know it as, essentially, less and less people were reading anyway and the likes of the Kindle have changed all that by offering a one stop shop where you can get what you need instantly and store thousands of books without having to worry about shelf space.

But if there’s one things that ebooks have done that hasn’t been picked up on quite as much as it possibly should have is to realise the potential of the online book. What I mean by that is a book that is made to be used and read online without the need for a particular device, only virtually any web browser which the vast majority of us these days resoundingly have.

Flipping books are the main area where people should be paying attention as not only do they allow quick access to publications, but they do it in a very efficient and beautiful way at the same time. However there is a lot more potential to a flipping book for businesses and for other promotional purposes. It can an effective way to distribute promotional materials which, rather than being screwed up and thrown in the bin like their paper equivalent, look considerably more attractive are much more modern and interactive and almost ask to be played with. Pages on them can be flipped in a variety of ways, pages can be printed, you can zoom in and, perhaps most importantly, they can be shared on social networks and via email.

It is only a matter of time before bigger companies pick up on their potential and start incorporating innovative ideas with their flipping book designs which can be used and enjoyed by tens of thousands of people the web over.

Publications such as The Economist have been doing interesting things via their bi-monthly magazine Intelligent Life by incorporating interactive aspects into the articles such as videos and links to related items, as has the UK free newspaper Metro, who recently won many awards for their innovative applications. There’s a lot more potential in flipping books for smaller businesses and larger businesses alike, they just need to take the time to work out how they can work them to their advantage.